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Jewish Revolts Under The Roman Empire

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Introduction: The Jews enjoyed complete freedom and had a very liberal situation in Rome and the Roman Empire during the early period of BC. In spite of them enjoying freedom there still had to suffer a certain amount of restrictions. Racism on Jews was predominant during that era and was also prevalent during the reign of Augustus Caesar which eventually led to the destruction of Jerusalem. [The Legend of Augustus]

As early as 6 AD, there was the annexation of Judea which meant the nation of Judea of Jews was seized as an imperial province by Emperor Augustus though it was a peaceful affair resulting in both the parties benefiting. In spite of the annexation, Judea gained more stability and wealth, while Rome extended its province. However, the problems between the Jews and the Romans erupted again with the death of Augustus in the 14 AD and Tiberius taking over as the Emperor. During his reign, there was immense prejudice towards the Jews resulting in him expelling them from Rome. After a few decades, they were again expelled by Claudius. This led to strained relationship between the two groups. This aggravated with the appointment of Pontius Pilate, the Procurator of Judea. Much to the disgruntled Jews, Pilate went around violating Jewish customs. [Roman Rule, 2004]

Tension still prevailed in the Roman Empire with the assassination of Tiberius and the empire being taken over by Caligula. It all started with him turning insane and wanting to be pronounced as god and demanding everybody to worship him as a divine individual. He, in the 40 AD was anti-Jewish and tried to place his own statue in the enormous Jewish temple in Jerusalem. The Jews began to revolt, and a Jewish-Roman War erupted, when Caligula was suddenly assassinated in Rome. Extensive riots by the Jews in Alexandria in Egypt erupted which made the successor of Caligula, Claudius allow the Jews to practice their religion. His relationship with the Jewish population was projected to be cordial. This suppressed the mushrooming revolt for the time being.

However, by 66 AD during the supremacy of the Roman Emperor Nero, the Jews again revolted against Rome for independence as they had done under the regime of Maccabees. Nero was also like Caligula and his reign was full of strange behavior and terror. He like Caligula wanted everybody to worship him as a god. [Treatment of the Jews in the Roman Empire]

Owing to the corruption being carried out in the Roman Empire, the Jewish population in Palestine slowly started to revolt. They started to turn rebellious throughout the Empire, predominantly at Judea. The revolt resulted in a pagan sacrifice in front of a synagogue in Caesarea in 66AD. There were massive protests resulted in scores of Jews being arrested. The Roman Procurator of Judea, Gessius Florus worsened the whole situation by setting out his troops on Jerusalem resulting in thousands being killed. Jews fought back and were successful in defeating Florus' troops as well as conquering Rome's 12th Legion.

Emperor Nero was not too happy with the turn of events and sent one of his minor generals, Vespania, who later became the future emperor, to subdue the revolt. When Vespania eventually became the emperor in 69 AD, he left his son Titus to completely wipe off the Jewish revolt. Titus fought the Jews until his victory. He conquered the fortress of Masada which had once housed the last group of Jews. Under his commands, the Romans built a great ramp up to the fortress along with breaking down of the walls of the fortress. Titus was also successful in destroying the Second Temple of the Jews in Jerusalem which hasn't been rebuilt till date.

The Second Jewish Revolt started during the supremacy of the Roman Emperor Hadrian. Now the Jews wanted to be free of Roman rule. However, just like the First Jewish Revolt, this revolt was also a failure. Hadrian was completely against anything to do with the Jews or Judaism and was a huge follower of Greek and the Greek religion. After the failure of the Second Jewish Revolt, Hadrian brought back Israel under the Roman Empire and destroyed the Second Temple which in turn resulted in many of the Jews



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